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Watershed Atlas
Mystery #2

In 1832 during the Black Hawk War our town became fortified with U.S. Troops. Chief Black Hawk looked from one side of the main river in our watershed to the other, saw the troops and did not attack. Soon after that in a nearby town a treaty was agreed upon. This is a picture of Chief Blackhawk and another of where the 'Block House' for the troops stood.
By 1845 our town was the most important commercial point north of St. Louis on the 'great water highway.' Sources vary in the numbers given, but in the mid-1850's the town population had grown to between 8,000 and 15,000. There were as many as 18 steamboats anchored at the levee at a time. All steamers traveling on the 'great water highway' came to our town. It was a prosperous town.

Many buildings from that time are still standing in the hills and valleys of this unglaciated area. This river has been over 300 feet wide. This made it possible for the steamboat traffic. The picture of the steamboat shows how large the steamboats were. Some of the buildings in the picture with the steamboat are still in use. This early picture of our town is now in the office of our local newspaper. The aerial photo shows how narrow the river has become. Many of the buildings in the modern photo were built in the 1800's.

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Center for Global Environmental Education
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